CORRUPT DEFEAT OF NEW JERSEY'S CONSCIENTIOUS EMPLOYEE PROTECTION ACT

Deposition Transcript Segments of Lauren Burke, Community Medical Center 
Nursing Administrator 

 Burke – Direct page 10

let's see if seek do this without having to get too formal.

Q You said you have a position?

A Mm-hum.

Q What's your position?

A As to what?

Q Mr. Miller's theft of narcotics?

 A I did a formal investigation. There was nothing in my investigation that found that anybody else could have taken those medications. Those medications were not ordered for the two patients that the Pyxis machine showed the two drugs were taken out for.

Q And you still haven't said whether you believe that Mr. Miller stole the narcotics?

A It's not a question of whether I believe it or not.

Q That's the question that's being asked.

A I can't answer that.

Q Okay. So you don't really have --

A An opinion, no.

Q --an opinion as to whether he stole the narcotics?

A No, I don't.

Q If I'm correct, your only contention is that you don't know who stole and haven't been able to find out who stole the narcotics?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burke – Direct page 11

A No, I do know that narcotics were signed out under David Miller's name. Yes, I do know that.

Q You know that they were under this password?

A Under his name, yes and his password.

Q But that hasn't enabled you, if I understand you correctly, for you to actually state a belief that he stole the narcotics. Am I correct?

A I'm saying that based on my investigation that those two narcotics that were taken out, the two morphines that were taken out were taken under David Miller's password. Under my investigation I found no one else that could have taken the morphine.

Q Well, then do you believe that he stole the narcotics?

A (No response)

Q Are you still uncertain?

 A I again go -- I go back and -- I find nobody else that could have taken it. So if you want to say yes, yes, I do believe he took the narcotics.

 Q That's the answer to the question. Tell us what you did in your investigation. Tell us how you conducted, what you found.

A The whole investigation?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burke – Direct page 12

Q Yes

A Based on what I remember? 

Q Yes.

A Okay. Under the investigation we looked at every nurse that worked that shift and the previous shift; looked at all of their narcotics dispenses in a two month period; matched it up to patients to see if their documentation supported that those drugs were given, and I found none. I looked at all the narcotics.

Q I assume, by the way, that includes David Miller?

A Yes. I found -- when I went back two months, I also looked at all of the morphine, all of the narcotics, including morphine, all the narcotics that were dispensed out of that Pyxis to see if there were any inconsistencies. I found none. I looked at any techs that had inputted any of the narcotics to find out if they had worked that day and to see if they appropriately should have been putting narcotics in that Pyxis, which we did. We didn't find any variances. We didn't find anybody that came from another unit that had gone onto that Pyxis and taken out narcotics so they borrowed any narcotics from anybody.

I'm trying to think what else. I can't think of anything else.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Burke - Direct  page 24

-- would have to be injectable -- would have to watch him inject himself.

Q If he used morphine at that time, you would certainly know that?

A Absolutely.

Q And the nurses?

A No, they wouldn't able to, because the theft was at change of shift. So that wouldn't be a fair answer.

 Q Wouldn't he be on duty, though, even for a half an hour beyond the shift change?

A I can't -- I don't know what time he punched out.

Q Well, in your investigation, isn't that one of the facts that you observed, what time he actually left that day?

A No, not exactly what time. He left when all the other staff left, is what I was told.

Q What time did the thefts occur?

A Around the change of shift, as I recall.

Q Do you remember the exact times?

A No, I don't.

Q And yet you didn't check to see what time he punched out that day?

A I might have. I can't recall. 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burke – Direct page 44

other things that annoyed you as an Administrator that were not related to violations of the rules?

 A Annoyed me?

Q Yes.

A
No.

Q There was an incident, was there not, when he sent a letter complaining about the use of diapers?

A Not that I recall.

Q You are not familiar with that?

A No.

Q At the last deposition session when Mr. Miller testified, he talked about his letter about the diapers. Didn't you hear that discussion?

A Mm- hum.

Q So then you are familiar with it?

A Well I'm familiar with his deposition. I'm not familiar before that time.

Q Are you familiar with any of the facts that he mentioned in his last deposition about the diapers or --

A Was I familiar prior to his deposition?

Q Yes.

A
No, I wasn't. 

Q Have you subsequently learned anything about that incident as a result of hearing him describe it?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burke – Direct page 45

A I'm not sure I follow, understand what you are - -

Q Withdraw the question. Had Mr. Miller ever written any letters to anybody ever that you considered to be contrary to the best interest of the hospital?

A No.

Q Had you ever been told by any other administrator in the hospital that he had written letters, or he had taken actions that are animocal to the hospital's best interest?

A No.

Q Had you ever been aware of any letters that Mr. Miller had written about procedures at the hospital that went to either hospital administrators or to outside individuals or agencies?

A None to an outside agency that I'm aware of at all. And procedures? I don't know as far as administrators. I mean, I can't think of anything as far as a procedure. If you can give me some idea of what you are looking for...

Q Did Marlene -- Maureen, I'm sorry, Schneider, ever give you a complaint about Mr. Miller's actions in contacting the hospital or anybody else about

 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Burke - Direct page 65

able to see around.

 Q Have you obtained any evidence whatever, aside from the fact that you can't find any other explanation, for believing that Mr. Miller stole the drugs or the morphine?

A Have I gotten any other?

Q Yes.

A No.

Q Do you know of any narcotics problems that Mr. Miller has ever had?

A No.

Q Have you obtained any history from Mr. Miller to ascertain whether he has ever used drugs?

A No.

Q Or ever been involved in any way with drugs?

A No.

Q Or has been involved with people who abused drugs?

A I couldn't comment to his personal life.

Q Does that mean you.'ve made no inquiry or that, for whatever other reason exists, you haven't paid any attention to the rest of his life?

MR. THIBAULT: I'll object to the form.
You can answer it.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burke-Direct page 66

A And what?

Q Does that mean that you've never made any inquiry into his personal life?

A I don't speak to the staff about people's confidentiality, no. What you do with yourself on the outside is your own business.

Q If you are conducting an investigation into somebody's nest of drugs, in order to have a complete investigation wouldn't you have to ascertain what a person does on the outside?

A No.

Q When they are not at the hospital, wouldn't you have to inquire to see whether or not they've ever used drug or they've associated with people who use drugs?

MR. THIBAULT: I object to the form. You
can answer.

A If they used drugs in the past and been involved with an issue with the State Board of Nursing, you are not notified. Well, it's up to the individual to notify you and let you know that you've had your license revoked. So...

Q What if the license wasn't revoked but, nevertheless, they had been involved in drug use or they were associated with people who had been a drug user, isn't that relevant to knowing whether this person might have committed a drug theft?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burke-Direct page 67

A I don't do a criminal investigation and go into your home life and things like that.

Q So that your investigation, in fact, wasn't similar to that that would be conducted by a criminal investigating unit?

MR. THIBAULT: I object to the form. You
can answer.

A I don't do that type of investigation, no.

 Q How would you describe the kind of investigation you did?

A You look at the practice. You look at the policy, policy violations, the documentation, your professional practice, not your personal life.

Q Well, tell us what policies or practices were violated by Mr. Miller in conjunction with this theft.

A The narcotics administration policy.

Q And what was that policy, and how did he violate it?

A Policy states that the patients must receive the appropriate narcotic, has to be signed out through the Pyxis machine. The doctor's order has to be there. Those two medicines that were taken did not have doctor's orders for those drugs.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burke - Direct page 72

A Yes.

 Q Now we'll get to the discharge. Tell us the reasons why Mr. Miller was discharged?

A The reason was we could not ascertain what happened to the two morphine injectables. We looked at some charts. I can't describe how many I looked at, a group of charts. And there were issues as far as the documentation of narcotics.

 Q Didn't you say previously that the documentation violation by itself would not be a basis for discharge?

A A single, yes.

Q Well, had you had prior violations before making this investigation? Had you been aware of prior violations before making this investigation?

A Whose violations?

Q Mr. Miller's?

A No.

Q So this is the first time that you encountered violations?

A Yes.

Q Or at least alleged violation?

A Mm-hmm.

Q And none of the evaluators or charge nurses or anyone on duty in any unit he's worked on has
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burke - Direct page 74

would stand out is if it was a negative comment in which the staff member would have to be re-evaluated. So there are many, many negative comments made throughout an evaluation, but it's not sent back for re-evaluation.

Q But nothing that had specifically drawn your attention to his performance. Is that correct?

A No, but there are issues that are brought up in an evaluation that could be to the negative side.

Q Do you remember any issues that were raised in any report that you had read prior to the incident in question that reflected negatively on Mr. Miller?

A No.

 Q Particular in terms of the conclusions that you've drawn as a result of the incident with the theft, what led you to believe that his performance was so subpar that it justified his being discharged?

 A There were serious problems with documentation as far as narcotics usage; that coupled with the theft, alleged theft of the morphine, I chose to terminate.

Q If, in fact, you were satisfied that he didn't steal the morphine, would any other violations, single or in combination, have justified his discharge from employment?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burke - Direct page 75

A Singly?

 Q Or in conjunction with any other aside from theft.

A Well, there are some issues as far as giving medicine without a doctor's order that could.
 
Q Did he do that?

A I think there was one instance, yes, he did, about a doctor's order. There was no doctor's order for the drug that was administered.

Q Did you speak to him about that?
 
A No. That was in the group of charts that I looked at.

Q Well, is it possible that what you found was a charting error and not a substantive error in terms of what whether the doctor prescribed the medicine or not?

MR. THIBAULT: I'll object to the form. You can answer.
 
A Excuse me?

Q Was it just a charting error or did you verify that the doctor never ordered the medicine be given?

A There was no doctor's order. So that basically there is no doctor's order, then there was no order for it.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Burke - Direct page 86  

month, but I might be wrong.

Q If a nurse, pursuant to a doctor's order, withdrew a narcotic from a Pyxis machine, but didn't administer it at all to the patient and kept the narcotic, is it there any way, other than asking the patient, that you would have of knowing that the nurse did that?

A No.

Q That could actually be happening today and you wouldn't know it, would you?

MR. THIBAULT: I'm going to object to the
form. You can answer.

A No. Well, I could in the end --

MR. THIBAULT: There is no question
pending.

Q How could you tell?

 A Well, I think if there is a report that looks at the narcotics of all the different narcotics, and if a nurse gives an inordinate amount of, let's say, Demerol , it would appear and we would investigate. If there was an inordinate of narcotic, the pharmacy would call us and look, and start looking at some of the charts.

Q The computer would tell the pharmacy?

A Yes, they do a specific run.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burke - Direct page 88 

own password. Is that not correct?

A Yes.

MR. THIBAULT: You are referring to Pyxis?

MR. HECKER: In Pyxis, yes. That's right.

Q The MIS number is assigned, I believe. Is that not correct?

A Not the MIS password, no.

Q That's all picked by the nurses?

A Yes.

 Q Wait one second. (Brief pause) Let me withdraw that question. Did the hospital require Mr. Miller to undergo any testing for drug use as a result of this incident?

A No.

Q Was there any reason why they didn't ask him to test for drug use?

A He didn't appear to be under the influence. That's when we would ask for drug testing.

Q Is it not true that if he used morphine on any occasion within a certain period of time that it would show up on drug testing?

A I couldn't speak to that. I don't know.

Q You are not familiar with drug use?

A Drug testing? I'm not familiar with drug testing.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burke – Direct page 92

 Q As a result of your investigation, did you prepare a written report?

A I did plenty of -- I don't believe a true written report, no.

Q Well, how did anyone else learn what your findings were if you didn't do a written report?

A I have notes. I had notes, and that's how I --

Q Who made the determination to discharge Mr. Miller?

A I did.

Q Nobody else in the administration had to approve that decision?

A No.

Q So that there was no need, in your mind at least, to furnish a report to anybody?

A No, I didn't furnish a report.

Q Did anybody in the administration ask for a report?

A No.

Q Did they ask for information for the discharge?

A There was theft of narcotics.

Q That' s what you said?

A And practice issues as far as the documentation.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Burke – Direct page 93

Q Did you do that in writing?

A No, only the letter to David.

Q You never sent a memo or letter to anybody else in the administration?

A Not at CMC, not that I recall.

 Q Did you discuss the reasons for the discharge orally with anybody in the administration?

A As far as termination?

Q Yes.

A I had a discussion with Arnie Manzo from corporate.

Q And what is his position?

A He is the corporate labor person.

Q The corporate?

A Labor relations person.

Q Okay. That's not the same as human resources, is it?

A No.

Q And why did you discuss it with him as opposed to anybody else?

A He was involved with his from the beginning. It was sent up to corporate.

Q Where is corporate located?

A St. Barnabas in Livingston. It had to be
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burke - Direct page 101  

you know, done. It was already typed, as I recall.

 Q Essentially, then, this was a determination you made really by yourself based on your own investigation?

A Along with Arnie Manzo.

Q Well, he didn't make any investigation, did he?

A No, I spoke to him.

Q I assume you got counselor advice from him?

A Yes, I did. As a matter of fact, he filled out my investigation, said I had gone way past what anybody else would have done is what he told me.

Q Have there been any other thefts of morphine either two months before or even two months after the incident in question?

A Of morphine? Not that I recall.

Q Is there is such a thing called as med police?

A Med police?

Q Yes, are you familiar with that term?

A I'm not sure exactly, but I'm laughing because I think there is a report that comes out and staff on the unit can -- to look at what medicine hadn't been given or to verify everybody to the whole staff
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burke – Direct page 103 

A Incomplete? No.

 Q Do staff nurses routinely check Pyxis records to see if there has been narcotics removals? Is there anybody on staff who does that?

A The charge nurse does an end-of-shift report.

Q In this particular instance did you receive a report from the charge nurse?

A Did I receive a report from the charge nurse? Yes.

 Q In fact, how did you determine that there had been a theft of the morphine?

A As I remember, the count was not done, going off shift, which is problematic, and was done late. And the nurse that was involved in the count noticed, she worked on the same unit the previous night and noticed that the drugs were given to two patients, and she had had those two patients and knew there was no order. She went back and checked to make sure that there hadn't been an order put in since the previous shift. And as I remember, that's what happened.

 Q Would you consider Mr. Miller to be of reasonable intelligence in terms of his demonstrated experience as a nurse?

A I can't speak to that. I can say he is, based on his years, he is experienced. I would consider him an experienced nurse. 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burke - Direct 104

Q He was familiar with the system that's employed at the hospital for monitoring or administrating -- strike that. You are aware that he's familiar with the process for dispensing narcotics in this hospital?

MR. THIBAULT: I'll object to the form.
You can answer.

A For the amount of years that he's worked there, yes, I would believe that he was. He is experienced at using a Pyxis machine. If he wasn't, he wouldn't be able to get narcotics.

Q And you are also aware that he knows that if he takes narcotics from the dispensing machine and uses his password, that somebody is going to ask what did you do with the narcotics if they weren't shown as having been taken pursuant to a physician's order?

MR. THIBAULT: I'll object to the form.
You can answer.

A I would think so.

Q And when you did your investigation, didn't you say yourself how stupid can this man be to use his own password in taking out narcotics?

A I told you, nothing shocks me.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Web Hosting Companies